Monday, December 26, 2011
Writer's Block: Author Interview Responses and Solutions
Hello everyone :-)
Today’s post is going to be dedicated to helping writers out there overcome writer’s block. Many writers will suffer from this affliction at some point in their writing career and during my author interviews I always ask the dreaded “Do you experience writer’s block and if so how do you deal with it?” I’ve gotten some great responses and thought it would be nice if they were all in one place for easy reference for those of us that have experienced this phenomenon. These are not listed in any particular order….
Claude Bouchard: “I’ve never considered it writer’s block. For me, it a mulling period, a time to ponder, sometimes needed to organize my thoughts in order to offer the best possible tale to my readers. These writing breaks are often perfect occasions to review what’s there to date, start polishing rough spots and do some fine-tuning. By the time I get back to where I was when the mulling started, I’m usually good to just keep on writing.”
David Anderson: “No, I don’t, and I suppose I am lucky. Having said that, there are days when the writing doesn’t go well. I usually try to force things along but if that doesn’t work, then I give up and do other tasks. The next day is always better.”
Rebecca Forster: “I experience writer’s block all the time. My trick is to get physical. I play on a competitive tennis team, I quilt and sew and cook – and clean the house. I think when you live in your mind as many authors do it is good to focus on the physical for a while to clear the mind.”
R.S. Guthrie: “Oh yes. More than I experience “inspiration”. It’s not a block as much as it is an empty reservoir. I need to get up and write in the middle of the night. That’s when I find my imagination most fertile. But I love sleep, too.”
James P. Wilcox: “Writer’s block has never been a huge issue for me because I don’t have a writing routine. As I mentioned before, I don’t get the chance to write everyday, but I am thinking about the story everyday. I try to think through the plot, the characters, dialogue, etc. so when I do get to write I can be productive. With that said, transitions are hard for me. When I am moving from one setting to the next, or finish one chapter, it is difficult to start the next. This is what I struggle with the most and causes me the most trouble. My writer’s block is in the transitions.”
Michelle Hughes: “I have had that horrible block and wondered if this journey into writing was coming to an end. As you mentioned earlier I started off as a singer/songwriter so that worry always finds the back of my mind. What if the words just stop coming, or the dreams no longer happen? To answer your question, I have this overwhelming fear when the writer’s block comes that I will never find my way back to the words again. If you haven't come to the conclusion yet that I get a little overly dramatic with most things, I'll just go ahead and let you know that I do.”
Lisa M. Lilly: “I’ve never had writer’s block, but I’ve certainly had those times where my stomach clenches and it feels like it’ll be impossible to write. Usually for me, that comes from my fear that what I write won’t be any good. It also happens when I don’t know where my story is going. So I tell myself that I’m just going to write something terrible, and that’s okay. And if I don’t know what to write, I start by writing that and then musing about what my character could do next or what I might someday write about. So something like, “I don’t know what to write. Maybe Tara needs to go overseas. What about that church she tried to find in Armenia? No, I don’t think she’ll go there again….” Once I get my fingers moving across the keys, I almost always write a scene or scenes I end up using. If not, I try again the next day.”
Douglas Dorow: “I get writer's block sometimes. I work off of a high level scene outline, so if I get stuck, I move onto a different scene and try and figure out why I was struggling with the other. If I have writer's block it usually means there's something wrong with the story at that point and I have to figure out how to fix it or remove or replace the scene.”
S.L. Pierce: “Absolutely. I'm going through a pretty bad spell right now. Unfortunately it is hitting at a very busy time so it's harder to just make myself sit and write, which is what I usually do. I also have a writing prompt app on my phone that works sometimes.”
Maren Kaye: “I’ve found the best cure for writers block is to get out of the house. Netbooks are great for taking to the park or the nearest coffee shop or museum. Every person you see has a story to tell and it’s just a matter of getting that initial spark.”
Russell Blake: “Not yet. I did once, on a non-fiction book I shelved, but thankfully once I'm in the story, it flows.”
Helen Hanson: “My version of writer’s block is: what happens next? I know how the story ends, but I don’t have a road map of every side road I plan to take. It’s the same way I travel. Ooh, let’s stop and see the cup flipper. No. We saw the gator farm last time. How about the world’s largest porcupine? As a writer, the journey better be fun. If it’s not entertaining, I might as well stay home.”
Paul Dorset (aka John Cox): “Not so much writer’s block, but there are some days when I don’t write. I am a planner. I plan my stories out with pretty intricate detail before they ever get written. Of course, there are new ideas that get introduced as well, but on the whole I know where my stories are going. This means that when I write I really know what it is I’m wiring. And as long as I am in my zone, the words come.”
John W. Mefford: “As a novelist, I had days where the writing comes easy. The ideas flow like a well-choreographed musical. Other days, the thoughts are not as fluid. But I really don’t call anything in the novel world writer’s block. I take it all in and believe I can use every day of writing to enhance my story. Some days I’ll crank out 3,000 words. Other days, it’s only 500, but I might develop the idea for a cool scene. When you’re a self-publishing author, you have control of your own destiny and your own outlook.”
Dr. Edwards: “We all hit the wall from time to time. I used to teach my writing students—and firmly believe it myself—that there are two main sources of writer’s block. One is when our internal censor gets the upper hand and wants to keep us away from the really interesting stuff deep inside. The cure for this is free writing exercises where you just write without stopping or conscious thought, and it also helps to remind yourself, as Anne Lamott says, that it’s okay to write “shitty” first drafts. The second source of writer’s block is when the well runs dry. That’s when you need to take a break, go for a walk, hug someone, laugh, exercise and so on.”
Note: If you would like to read any of author interviews in full, just click on the link and it will take you to that author’s interview.
For other tips for dealing with writer’s block, please refer to my other two posts on the subject “Solutions to Deal with Writer’s Block” and “Writing Software Solutions”.
Have a great day!